The Rio Conventions Pavilion (RCP) convened on Saturday for “20/20 Talks: 20 Presentations on 20 Targets.” The sessions included 20 presentations on the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, interspersed with panel sessions on the strategic biodiversity goals. Speakers discussed how to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, reducing direct pressures on biodiversity and promoting sustainable use, improving biodiversity status, enhancing benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services, and enhancing implementation.
TARGETS 1-4 AND STRATEGIC GOAL “A”
Moderator David Ainsworth, CBD Secretariat, opened the 20/20 Talks. CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias introduced the debate emphasizing the importance of valuing biodiversity. He underscored the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are the main international framework for global action. Dias noted the privileged role of the CBD Secretariat in helping to identify “win-win” solutions and promoting partnerships among various stakeholders.
On Target 1 (Awareness increased), Tim Hirsch, Global Biodiversity Information Facility, said it is the simplest yet most difficult target. He asked participants to leave negotiating jargon and acronyms behind and focus on their own passions in conveying why biodiversity is important to the public. He emphasized careful communication and called for distinguishing between the various values of biodiversity. Hirsch underscored the utility of direct results to practitioners combating biodiversity loss and called for sharing those results in knowledge-base websites.
On Target 2 (Biodiversity values integrated), Pavan Sukdev, GIST Advisory Group, explained that both “quantity” and “variability” matter for biodiversity, noting “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” study. He emphasized valuation is a human institution and said capturing the ecosystem value does not necessarily mean price attribution. Highlighting the Green Accounting for Indian States and Union Territories Project, he underscored the challenge of imperfect data and stressed using multiple biodiversity valuation strategies, including through legislation, regional plans and certification.
On Target 3 (Incentives reformed), Katia Karousakis, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, highlighted incentives as “a toolkit” used by governments to promote biodiversity conservation. She emphasized eliminating harmful subsidies and providing positive incentives, inter alia: taxes on ground water extraction, pesticide and fertilizer use; fees for hunting, fishing and access to national parks; subsidies to promote biodiversity; payments of ecosystem services; biodiversity offsets; and tradable permits, such as individually transferable fisheries quotas.
On Target 4 (Sustainable consumption and production), Ibrahim Thiaw, Director, Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, UNEP, highlighted the annual capture of 110-130 million tonnes of fish, degradation of one billion hectares of agricultural land, and post-harvest loss of 40% of food products. Calling for more attention to waste, he noted the 10-Year Framework Programme (10-YFP) on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) adopted at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012. He emphasized the importance of engaging consumers in ecological footprint reduction.
Speakers addressed Strategic Goal “A” (Addressing the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society) and responded to questions by participants. Panelists emphasized: reforming global governance systems to prevent piracy of high seas resources; promoting SCP patterns in a globalized world; supporting marine protected areas (MPAs) enforcement by small island developing states (SIDS); recognizing “healthy” forms of privatization, such as improving local communities’ rights and access to resources; and improving subsistence farmers’ yields and storage capacities.
TARGETS 5-10 AND STRATEGIC GOAL “B”
On Target 5 (Habitat loss halved or reduced), Tim Christophersen, UNEP, quoted Lester Brown saying “saving civilization is not a spectator sport.” He noted every three seconds one hectare of forests disappears and commended Costa Rica, Brazil and Bhutan for significant reduction in deforestation. He noted the project “Global Forest Watch 2.0” and emphasized the importance of decoupling population growth from deforestation, which already happened.
On Target 6 (Sustainable management of marine living resources), Serge Garcia, FAO, noted concern about the direction of South East Asian fishing practices and called for restocking the biomass of EU fisheries. Providing a cost-benefit analysis, he recommended a systemic approach in national policy frameworks and suggested solutions including: financing safety nets; reducing pressure on fish stocks; applying ecosystem-based approaches; employing smarter economics; enforcing laws; and promoting good governance.
On Target 7 (Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry), Peter Kenmore, FAO, discussed pollination, aquaculture and pest control. He stressed that achieving sustainable development, including sustainable agriculture, requires empowering people who have local and indigenous knowledge. He emphasized focusing on local active research processes and noted aquaculture risks if a holistic ecosystems view is disregarded. He highlighted that India has increased food productivity while reducing pesticide use by two thirds in the last 20 years.
On Target 8 (Pollution reduced), Patricio Arturo Bernal, UNESCO, stressed that reducing pollution is important for the preservation of both human and ecological health. Recalling Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” he emphasized emissions reductions achieved by national legislation, such as declining sulfur dioxide emissions in California since 1962. He underscored the interconnectedness of ecosystems and called for defining site- and ecosystem- specific “critical loads,” the maximum pollutant deposition levels that do not cause long-term harm to ecosystems.
On Target 9 (Invasive alien species prevented and controlled), Melesha Banhan, Antigua and Barbuda, said invasive alien species is a critical problem in most countries. She discussed the impacts of invasive species in the Caribbean region, including on the agricultural and tourism sectors. She highlighted challenges allocating government funding to protect biodiversity from invasive species and noted regional initiatives addressing this challenge, such as the Mitigating the Threat of Invasive Alien Species in the Insular Caribbean framework.
On Target 10 (Pressures on vulnerable ecosystems reduced), David Obdura, Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean East Africa, underscored that maintaining the ecosystem functions of coral reefs preserves their recovery ability and increases resilience to climate change and other stresses, such as pollution, overfishing, predation, diseases, acidification and bleaching. He recommended the use of early warning systems to monitor ecosystems and called for a “fundamental change” in economic systems to reduce ecological footprints.
The speakers discussed Strategic Goal “B” (Reducing the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use). Panelists and participants addressed mitigating Aichi Target impacts on the private sector and assisting small-scale operators with regulatory change. They highlighted: bottom-up fishing-industry approaches to address invasive species in the Caribbean; the opening of arctic fisheries due to climate change; and the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services as a global structure to address invasive species. On achieving Target 5, Christophersen noted REDD+ and the UNCSD outcomes on green economy, underscoring the challenge is implementation of existing plans.
TARGETS 11-13 AND STRATEGIC GOAL “C”
On Target 11 (PAs increased and improved), Trevor Sandwith, IUCN, recalled agreement on PAs at CBD COP 10 in Nagoya, Japan, noting they are “doing quite well.” He emphasized the need for skilled people and institutions that can cope with increasingly complex problems, such as climate change. Highlighting work by IUCN and the World Commission on PAs, he stressed PAs should facilitate equitable governance and social assessment and emphasized the “learning by doing” approach.
On Target 12 (Extinction prevented), Russ Mittermeier, President, Conservation International (CI), underscored the species extinction crisis. He listed threats to species, including: large-scale monoculture agriculture; slash-and-burn agriculture; large-scale hydroelectric projects; hunting; species trade; invasive species; and climate change. He recommended: using science-based strategic prioritization; identifying high priority sites; focusing on mega-diversity countries such as Brazil and Indonesia; and focusing on hot spots such as Madagascar, with large numbers of endangered species.
On Target 13 (Genetic diversity maintained), Vandana Shiva, Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, recalled her experiences during 25 years of biodiversity conservation. She underscored monoculture constraints, especially corn, canola, soya and wheat, on food security. She said the “monoculture of the mind” inhibits valuing biological diversity and noted India’s history of great crop diversity, such as the growth of 200 rice varieties. She stressed that commodities are not food, but the source of malnutrition.
The speakers discussed Strategic Goal “C” (Improving the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity). Responding to questions, Sandwith said the categorization of PAs revealed the need for getting the issue of governance types right. Mittermeier commended early efforts by Brazil on species assessment and their success in species protection. Shiva said CBD parties must live up to their agreements and shift policies from those supporting genetically modified organisms to biodiversity protective agriculture practices. She stressed policy change can only happen when democratic forces equal undemocratic ones.
TARGETS 14-16 AND STRATEGIC GOAL “D”
On Target 14 (Ecosystems and essential services safeguarded), Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CI, explained linkages between the Aichi Targets. Beyond financial resources, he emphasized the need for policy planning and broader political engagement by government ministers, particularly those responsible for finance and agriculture. He highlighted successful experiences in Costa Rica combating deforestation. Rodriguez urged eliminating perverse incentives, creating positive incentives and building new institutional frameworks to achieve Target 14.
On Target 15 (Ecosystems restored and resilience enhanced), Sasha Alexander, Society for Ecological Restoration, noted that while some countries have the capacity to achieve the target, political will and long-term commitment are required. He discussed the contribution of restoration outcomes to combating desertification and land degradation, as well as to climate change mitigation and adaptation. He concluded ecosystem restoration creates jobs and livelihoods in harmony with nature.
On Target 16 (Nagoya Protocol in force and operational), Pierre du Plessis, Centre for Research Information Action in Africa, recalled that the third objective of the CBD (sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way) is key for CBD implementation. He said the failure to address this objective is one reason the 2010 targets have not been achieved. He highlighted Target 16 is an opportunity to drive the transition towards alternative “green” development pathways, along with more equitable North-South relations.
The speakers discussed Strategic Goal “D” (Enhancing the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services). Du Plessis emphasized the rights based approach as prerequisite for sustainable resource management. He underscored that “since people are destroying biodiversity, they must be part of the solution.” Rodriguez attributed Costa Rica’s success in simultaneously restoring ecosystems and achieving economic growth to addressing perverse incentives and transforming institutions.
TARGETS 17-20 AND STRATEGIC GOAL “E”
On Target 17 (NBSAPs adopted as policy instrument), Caroline Petersen, UNEP, noted national biodiversity strategy and action plan (NBSAP) capacity building workshops to facilitate drafting of NBSAPs. She highlighted a study recommending that new NBSAPs focus on specific targets and on-the-ground action. She described the NBSAP of South Africa as exemplary, addressing biodiversity across entire landscapes through land-use planning and decision-making. She lauded the launch of the NBSAP Forum to share knowledge and experiences in the development of NBSAPs.
On Target 18 (Traditional knowledge respected), Joji Carino, Tebtebba Foundation - Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy, Research and Education, underscored that indigenous and local communities are found in “hotspot areas” because they conserve biodiversity. She emphasized the maintenance of traditional knowledge and customary sustainable use requires, inter alia: respect for and noninterference in indigenous practices; free and prior consent for third party projects on indigenous territory; and full and effective participation at all levels.
On Target 19 (Knowledge improved, shared and applied), Randall Garcia, National Institute for Biodiversity, discussed information for conservation. He underscored the importance of understanding policy impacts on ecosystems. He also emphasized “translating” information to better integrate local knowledge, incorporate cultural, religious and market values, and address the multiple needs of stakeholders.
On Target 20 (Financial resources from all sources increased), Gustavo Alberto Fonseca, Global Environment Facility, emphasized Target 20’s role in enabling achievement of the other targets. He called for recognizing investment in biodiversity as “an investment in the future,” and said it should not just be a north-south exchange. He stressed mobilizing private sector sources and utilizing funds more effectively. He highlighted the first decrease in official development assistance since 1997 in 2011.
Speakers discussed Strategic Goal “E” (Enhancing implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building). In response to a question about the paradox between the enhancement of data and continuous biodiversity degradation, Fonseca emphasized the solution to get out of this “trap” is to value natural capital. Carino stressed the importance of long-term planning, while Peterson highlighted positive schemes in Costa Rica, South Africa and India. One participant underscored the challenge of remaining optimistic and panelists responded that barriers remain a reality, but that citizen’s engagement and promising bottom-up experiences provide hope.